Showtime is really stepping up its game. I don't think it's challenging HBO with its original programming yet, but with
Dexter and now
The Tudors, the network has signaled that it's becoming a major player. And I think the viewer is all the better for it.
That being said, let me make one thing clear right now: I am watching this show for pure entertainment value. If I want a history lesson I can read a book just as well as the next person. But I hope you will let me know when there are any glaring historical errors. I'll try to do my research, but I'm not making any promises.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers is perfectly cast as the brash, headstrong, willful king of England, but he had me at
Bend It Like Beckham. I'm so happy he's decided to return to the small screen after his Golden Globe-winning performance in the television movie
Elvis. He's a great actor who is compelling to watch, and I've followed his career with interest. It certainly doesn't hurt that he's added some muscle to that skinny frame of his. He is one historical inaccuracy I'm willing to live with.
Let's meet the other major players. I'll try to be brief and cover everyone of importance. We've got Queen Katherine, a Spaniard who is devoutly Catholic. She was married to Henry's brother Arthur but swore her marriage was never consummated. Henry thinks that may not be true, and as a result God is punishing him by giving him no living male heirs. At least two of Katherine's ladies-in-waiting are Henry's lovers, and one is pregnant with his child. The duke of Buckingham has designs on Henry's crown - he can't seem to hide his disdain for the king and is plotting his assassination. He has the support of some of the other nobles, including the duke of Norfolk. Buckingham's daughter is sleeping with Charles Brandon, who is literally the son of a whore. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey is one of Henry's right-hand men. Although a man of the cloth, Wolsey has a mistress and two daughters as well as aspirations to be the pope. His ambitious plan for a treaty among the European nations has put him in everyone's good graces. Sir Thomas More has the king's other hand. He's a humanist and is opposed to war with France. Sir Thomas Boleyn is in charge of diplomatic negotiations for the summit with France. He doesn't like Wolsey. His daughters are Mary and Anne Boleyn.
In this episode, Henry wants to declare war on France after his beloved uncle is murdered in Italy. As the troops are being mustered and provisions are being gathered, Cardinal Wolsey suggests a treaty. Henry wants to be remembered in the history books, he wants to be immortal. Although he desperately wants a war, he is persuaded by both Wolsey and More to pursue a diplomatic solution. At the same time, Henry enjoys all the perks of being king. He has sex with any comely young lady who consents, participates in jousting tournaments and tennis matches, and hunts. His only concern besides the French threat is that he has no heirs. And although Henry doesn't know it yet, he has a mortal enemy in Buckingham. Buckingham wants Henry's crown, which he feels is rightfully his. He challenges Henry constantly and openly shows his disdain for the king. Buckingham starts gathering money to find men who will do his bidding and shows his close circle of confidants exactly how he'll murder the sovereign.
King Henry's court is a lusty bunch. Katherine's a bit of a prude, but she seems to have a good heart. When Henry visits her bedchamber for the first time in a long while and she isn't there, he signals for one of his men to bring him one of his queen's ladies. He doesn't flaunt his infidelities in the queen's face, but she must suspect. She worries that the king has grown tired of her bed and mourns the loss of their five stillborn children.
I really enjoyed this episode. There was a lot of fine acting, especially by
Steven Waddington's Buckingham. I know what's going to happen to him, but I'm enjoying his performance every step of the way. I kind of feel like Henry needs someone to challenge him and possibly subvert him. Wolsey and More are also interesting men.
Sam Neill is another great villain; he doesn't play Wolsey over-the-top, which I think is important. And
Jeremy Northam is divine as More. It's nice to see at least one other person close to Henry who wants to live a moral life. I like that he lives away from court and tries to maintain a normal family life.
I can't wait for Anne to come to court. I think we all know how that ends, but it should make for a heck of a ride.
Do you have any favorite characters yet? I can't wait to hear your thoughts.
Showtime is really stepping up its game. I dont think its challenging HBO with its original programming yet, but with Weeds, Dexter and now The Tudors, the network has signaled that it's becoming a major player. And I think the viewer is all the better for it.That being said, let me make one thing clear right now: I am watching this show for pure entertainment value. If I want a history lesson I can read a book just as well as the next person. But I hope you will let me know when there are any glaring historical errors. Ill try to do my research, but Im not making any promises.Jonathan Rhys Meyers is perfectly cast as the brash, headstrong, willful king of England, but he had me at Bend It Like Beckham. Im so happy hes decided to return to the small screen after his Golden Globe-winning performance in the television movie Elvis. Hes a great actor who is compelling to watch, and Ive followed his career with interest. It certainly doesn&...